Updated: May 12
If you are a fan of The BBC’s Top Gear, the TV program which was first aired back in the ’70s and is related to anything and everything that has an awesome engine on it, there is an episode where Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond visits southeast Asia for a trip across the terrain on boats.
You may be wondering what Top Gear has to do with water and how the world is changing in search of the same. As a matter of fact, even though those boats were ready for the shoot, they had a hard time finding something important to start with – and that’s Water. The program was supposed to be recorded in a village where all the houses are constructed on 10ft stills so that the dwelling could stay above the waterline all year round. However, while they were there, all they could find were dusty roads and a lot of houses on stills, like skeletons ruminating on a colorful history. Those areas which were once like what Venice is in our memories are now like a water-deprived rural village that’s inching ever nigher to get withered into memory.
How intense is the impact on our water?
"Basra in Iraq was once known as the Venice of the east, because of the magnificence of the Ahatt-Al-Arab river and its numerous canals are now a drying open sewage line due to climate flux and further human interventions."
The same tune is being played on the other side of the globe and elsewhere. If you search for Hoover dam’s before and after pictures, the sight of those massive water intake towers which once stood submerged stands in front of us as a warning sign for the things about to ensue.
From Bangalore, the buzzing IT hub of India, to the arid Sahel region of Africa, struggles over water are now a daily occurrence. The city of Bangalore is expected to cross the demand and supply boundary of water within the next few years and to make the matters worse, most of its 400,000 ground wells are drying up as the natural water table is rescinding much faster than expected.
Basra in Iraq was once known as the Venice of the east, because of the magnificence of the Ahatt-Al-Arab river and its numerous canals are now a drying open sewage line due to climate flux and further human interventions.
It is estimated that a quarter of the world population is encountering some sort of severe water shortage as we speak & over 40% of the global population is experiencing mild to severe water shortages, and these figures are predicted only to ascend.
The battles that are being brewed over water and how it is transforming the world.
It’s said that water is tomorrow’s oil and the wars of the future could be fought for its control. As freshwater sources transcend boundaries, so does the probability of conflicts arising. Countries that are upstream are constructing structures to ensure their water security while leaving those downstream to fight on their own for this vanishing essential.
There are a lot of examples of such sprouting conflicts around the world. Ethiopia's GERD project to dam the Blue Nile resulted in a joint military exercise between Egypt and Sudan, concerned about the local impact if the project goes on.
The Jordan river conflict between Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. The Aral Sea conflict between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
The Mekong River dispute between China and its neighbours.
The Euphrates and Tigris disputes between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq are some examples of many such possible conflicts that are lingering to happen over water.
The geopolitics of water is something that is blending into the modern world in a manner that an amicable resolution is not always the way out. Global water usage is advancing twice the rate of enlargement in the human population and iso does the priority of every country to save and secure this precious resource as much as they could. The same once happened over oil where the major powers around the world were vying for ownership. As the tables have turned and the world evolves, only the name of the desire had changed but the fight remains the same.
What can we do to tackle this water insecurity?
The first step towards a great future with water security is not to live in denial that just because we are not experiencing water shortages, we will forever relish in the presence of aqua. Our actions on our home planet are the sole reason why we along with numerous species are facing these harsh conditions. We are opening our doors and are inviting these demons into our lives with our irresponsibility.
Look at the way how we construct our towns and cities, most are well paved just for ascetics while completely ignoring the needs of the planet. When it rains, water just gushes through those paved streets and onto to sewer and straight onto some river source, dragging along all the plastic waste and impurities that get dumped onto our oceans. We need to give the water some space to get settled so it could replenish the water tables that are the sources of water for millions. Cities around the world are digging deeper to tap into their water sources & at the same time are dumping sewage into the existing water sources like there is no hereafter.
Our actions are as perplexing as we are the sole cause and solution to all our problems. 700 million people are expected to get displaced due to the shortage of water by 2030 as per some estimates as the term water refugees is not a fictional phrase anymore.
We need to revise the way how we treat our rivers, streams, and swamps. There is always a greener alternative around the corner that we all are aware of. The problem is that we perceive it as someone else’s duty and choose to live in a comfort bubble, assuming that the bubble will last forever. It is the need of the hour for us to realize that every step that we take for granted will come back to stalk our future like a boomerang & no country can no longer live in a dilemma that they are safe. Until and unless we address this issue adequately, wars will be fought between lawyers in courtrooms and by soldiers on battlefields in numerous countries making life arduous for millions more.